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Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:07 am
by Ack
Xeogred wrote:5 minutes and Ack already gets that deep.

Just you wait. I have always found this game weirdly personal. It is what I consider to be my white whale, it came out during a weird time in my life, and it served as a heavy influence in what kinds of things I play. I'll likely be sharing some bizarre personal anecdotes while going through it.

Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:13 am
by Exhuminator
Ack wrote:it came out during a weird time in my life / I'll likely be sharing some bizarre personal anecdotes

*grabs popcorn*


Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 11:16 am
by Ack
I had a little bit of time to play more Silent Hill last night, so I decided I'd explore the combat system a bit and reorient myself with the game. Almost immediately after your brief introduction into the kinds of horror you should expect in this game, you're thrust into combat against a thing known as the Air Screamer, though I'll just refer to them as birds. These things look a lot like fleshy pteranodons, and they're annoying critters that rely on wide sweeps to disorient the player and occasional hit-and-run tactics to drive your health down. Sometimes you can kill them, sometimes you'll get off a single hit and they'll peel off and vanish into the fog to come and harass you later. I suspect that they may regenerate their health once out of view, but it may be that I was being harassed by multiple who would occasionally dive bomb me and then vanish for a few seconds, only to suddenly swoop in and dive bomb me again. Due to the height of their approach, they're not so easy to take down with melee, but they also serve as bullet sponges, taking usually between 4-5 pistol rounds to drop.

The other sort of creature you find early on is known as a Groaner, though it's easier to simply refer to it as a dog due to its resemblance to a fleshy, starving canine(I find something humorous about fighting evil dogs on Bachman street. Good thing they're not Saint Bernards). These tend to be more "fair" than the screamers because they don't tend to run away and instead will just run around you in tight circles to jump up and maul Harry. They have a specific timing to their jumps, which means they're bit easier to take out using the kitchen knife or steel pipe, though the pipe's attack animation takes long enough that being assaulted from certain camera angles means you'll probably never get the attack off on time. Thankfully they take only two pistol rounds and can easily be double-tapped to drop, to then be finished off by a swift kicking. In fact the camera is probably the biggest detriment to combat because the player has limited control over it and the enemies have a nasty habit of getting at just the right angle to use it at its maximum disadvantage.

It's unfortunate for the player that Harry is an "everyman" kind of guy who isn't trained the way Resident Evil's supercops are. Harry's range with melee weapons is pathetic, and he has next to no understanding of height and distance so he will generally be unable to hit an enemy above or below his mid-torso. He also isn't trained fully in firearms, so instead of planting, automatically tracking targets, and being able to aim high or low with his pistol to pop far off enemies, he holds his weapon up and hopes to hit. Because of this, I tend to let things get close before I shoot at them, though often once is enough to disrupt an attack from the basic enemies and either leave them trying to escape or open them up for a further barrage.

While I looted heavily in the first area, I also had some trouble maintaining resources due to the constant harassment of the birds since they can overrun Harry and require so many pistol shots. There was a period during my exploration where I very nearly ran out of ammo, though it turned out I had explored all of the other areas to find health first and then managed to find a decent wealth of it. I also acquired the necessary keys to get through the first puzzle, so now I'm sitting in someone else's house, taking their things and about to unlock their back door. I recall the next section will be at night and is most easily handled by walking through the dark to the school so as not to attract enemies.

House design in Silent Hill is interesting. It seems the "inner-city" sections are all rowhouses which are, judging from the one that I've managed to enter, single bedroom affairs. It's all quaint and cookie cutter, likely a limitation from a game design perspective but also one that gives the same-ish town a Stepford Wives quality. The addition of a dog house seems a pathetic gesture almost in making any single one stand out. I wonder if the home owner had to pay a fine for it. Everyone has the same cul-de-sac garage. Everyone has the same garbage can and mailbox. The cult of Silent Hill also apparently runs quite the HOA racket in town. HOAs always struck me as cult-like anyway, so it doesn't seem much of a jump.

Surprisingly there is nothing in the fridge despite the scattered bullets and health drinks one can find throughout the house. The bedroom is locked, and one wonders what sorts of horrors might lie beyond the door. It's Silent Hill, so likely some kind of psychos. Psychos live in small suburban areas like this. I recall when I was 13, I was sitting at home alone playing a SNES game when I heard a crash and glass breaking. I ran out front and discovered someone had stabbed a gardening trowel through the front bay window of the house. I called Mom, she called the cops, we went over the whole thing. Nobody was ever caught. Two weeks later, a kid, Jeffrey, who lived a couple of blocks away in my neighborhood hacked his parents to death with a hatchet and then assaulted his little brother and sister with a meat cleaver and a sledgehammer. He didn't so much decapitate his little brother as slit him open like a PEZ dispenser and leave him for dead in the backyard. Their next door neighbor was a girl I knew(who I had always thought was really cute). She was on the phone with the little sister when Jeffrey suddenly gutted her, so the neighbor came over to see what was up with the screaming and was chased out of the house. She called the cops, they came and found the bodies(apparently in a state to send seasoned officers out the door to puke in the yard), and they locked up Jeffrey who grinned openly at the news cameras as they put him in the back of the police cruiser. He claimed later that a demon possessed him to commit the murders and ended up with three consecutive life sentences. His little brother and sister survived, but they have permanent brain damage and are wheelchair bound. The cops later told us they thought Jeffrey had smashed the window. Who even knows?

Next up is the night walk to the school. That should be fun.

Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:14 am
by Key-Glyph
Ho. Ly. Shit.

Damn Ack. I dunno what to say, except that I'm glad nothing happened to you.

On the video game side of things, I am excited to vicariously experience Silent Hill through you.

Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:23 am
by noiseredux
OMG. Damn, dude.

Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:37 am
by Exhuminator
I've been trying to remember how far I got into Silent Hill when I played it, this is like circa 2001. I remember being in a school with little creepy goblin children annoying me. Also something about a drain and having to pull a key out of the drain. I can't remember why I quit playing, but it's was probably some dumb puzzle.

And yes that Jeffrey dude was batshit. From his writings:

"I know Dad will be home at this time and I’m going to be, I’ll wait by the front door, behind the little hutch, and I’ll hit him with a hammer. Mom will be out on a walk, when she comes back I’ll have the radio playing loudly, I’ll call Mom in the room and ask her what’s on the agenda for today, then I’ll kill her, and what about the brothers and sisters. Well, I’ll take them, I’ll strangle my little brother in this room and I’ll lure my other little brother into this room and strangle him. Then my sister I will rape her then I will finish her off." ... is-family/

Apparently he was into Satanic worship.

Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:30 am
by Ack
Yeah, Exhum, that particular puzzle that you mentioned is in the school section.

Because my Internet is currently out at home, I decided to get back to Silent Hill in lieu of my usual Thursday gaming. Rocket League and Payday 2 would have to wait. Instead of heists and goals(who am I kidding, I play RL like a goon), I had Hell to deal with. I booted up the game and left the windows open so I could experience twilight turn into darkness while I played.

There are technically three versions of Silent Hill: day, night, and netherworld. Daytime has the fog and snow but is reasonably well lit. Nighttime also has the snow and fog but is dark, thus limiting your already enclosed viewpoint. The netherworld idea what the outside streets would look like, as so far my only experience with it has been limited to interiors, but it's definitely a night version of the world. It also replaces many of the interiors with chain fencing or bloody, fleshy textures, along with strung up corpses for that extra-homey touch.

The transition from the rowhouse interior to the backyard marks the transition point from daytime Silent Hill to the night version. Harry immediately activates his flashlight as he ends up in the backyard which leads to a cul-de-sac, revealing that using the flashlight in open areas can actually hinder you since it blinds Harry's peripheral vision beyond the light. I immediately turned it off to experiment with the darkness a bit. First things first, you cannot pick up items in the dark because Harry cannot see them. Second, you also cannot look at the map in the dark. However, you can open doors and fight if you so desire, so progressing is still quite possible. Since you can also open the map directly from the status/inventory screen, you can turn on the light there, check the map, then return to the status screen and shut off the flashlight so as not to attract monsters. Because yes, monsters are attracted by sound and light, so running or using the flashlight means you are more likely to have to fight.

All of this means that I shut the flashlight off for my outside experience, save the few times when I went through the menus to check my map or wanted to pick up an item. When I had to fight, I'd walk up point blank and put a round into the side of whatever was directly in front of me, though this generally only happened when I was in the narrow cul-de-sac or trying to gather up items in certain locations. Most of my walk through the dark was spent slowly strolling down the street, about a 1/4 of the way from the west curb. I chose this because dogs tend to stick to the sidewalks and birds tend to favor the center streets and intersections, so I had maneuver room and could avoid cars. The radio static operates as a much better radar than my view in the dark, so whenever I heard a nearby enemy, I'd inch forward until either the sound died away or I could see them to sneak past and keep going on my journey. In this regard Silent Hill operates like a stealth game at times, or at least I play it like one. Anyway, after a long sojourn through the darkness, I quickly put a couple of rounds into the two dogs outside the elementary school and made my way inside.

The school brings back the first enemy of the game, the Grey Child(only in the US. PAL and NTSC-J versions use a different enemy, the Mumbler, over concerns that the Grey Child looks too much like an actual child). The Grey Child wields a knife and tries to slash or stab Harry in the thighs and legs by falling on him. On their own, they're not so bad. Unfortunately they're often encountered in packs, where one will attack Harry by stabbing his legs and holding on to immobilize him while the other moves up to slash at Harry's torso. Still, they're not particularly fast, so I swapped over to the steel pipe for most of the school unless threatened by a group of three or more Grey Children. The pipe shines against lone Grey Children because you can effectively lock them down in their brief stun animations. Even if they manage to get a lucky hit in on you, they then fall prone to the floor, where you can immediately beat them to death in a proper revenge killing. There are also translucent children wandering the halls that set off the radio, but they're harmless.


The Grey Children are supposed to represent the school children that bullied Alessa as a student for standing out. Conformity to the cult is the rule here in town, and any nail who stands up must by necessity be hammered down...through abuse. When I was a kid, I attended a school where I was regularly bullied by kids who were friends with the assistant principal's daughter, who was the same age as me. I was an easy target I suppose: smart but socially awkward, not athletic, with parents heading towards divorce(Dad served Mom the papers on my 12th birthday. Mom waited a day to sign them, and I officially came from a broken home). Those kids never got into trouble for it no matter how I complained or who I complained to. In my frustration and anger I eventually acted out, and I ended up being the one who had to go talk to the school cop. Eventually a shrink was called in from a children's psychiatric hospital to speak once a week with the "problem children." I got put into the room and discovered the "problem children" were all my friends, the socially awkward ones who were preyed upon by the assistant principal's daughter's friends. To her credit, the shrink treated us like adults and figured out by the end of the first day what was going on. She let us use the weekly appointed time to vent and relax from that point on.

As for the school itself, yes, it's modeled off of Kindergarten Cop. The teacher roster is actually the roster for the band Sonic Youth, and the actual name of the school, Midwich Elementary School, was borrowed from the movie Village of the Damned. There's also a reference for Dean Koontz's Phantoms, which leads one to surmise that even in Silent Hill, Ben Affleck was the bomb, yo. By the time I made it into the school, it was now fully night outside. Since I was forced to explore in close quarters, I opted to finally turn on the flashlight, pulled out the metal pipe, and completely dropped the stealth approach. In here I instead became the hunter, slowly moving down hallways to smash anything that moved. The school actually railroads you through much of the building via locked or blocked doors to form a set of two loops comprising the two main floors of the building. Once I had pushed through and completed the circuit, I then headed back to the puzzles necessary to solve to advance.

The game kindly gives you some cryptic clues to handle the puzzles, the first of which involves you finding the "Alchemy Lab" to use the "Alchemist water" to destroy a hand and free a gold medallion. The lab in question is the science lab. The water however is not the distilled water found in the lab storage room but concentrated acid. This puzzle is pretty easy as it just requires grabbing the right item and using it in the right place to grab the gold medallion for the central clock tower in the courtyard. The second puzzle is the stumper, one that requires tapping bloody piano keys in a particular order based on a poem about birds flying. I've dreaded this puzzle for years because I have little understanding of how to play piano. Revisiting it now though, I realized the birds corresponded to key colors and that the necessary keys made clicking sounds. After experimenting a little, I accidentally put in the right combination... You know what? I'll take it. With the silver medallion gained, I put it in the clock tower and activated the boiler to open a door.

That door marks the first real transition into the netherworld version of the school. As I said earlier, the netherworld's interior decorator must have been Ed Gein because it uses fences, flesh, blood, and corpses for its motif. Not exactly my personal taste, but whom am I to judge? Even Hell needs to have style. The Grey Children now come in packs and are occasionally flanked by Creepers, giant cockroaches from Hell. Otherwise it's similar to the initial run with the two giant loops and locked or blocked passages railroading the player. There are a few more puzzles involving blocking a drain pipe to acquire a key(Hell's drainage system has surprisingly clear water) as well as a mystic bathroom of teleportation which leads you to free stuff. Oh, and there's a shotgun in the boys' to a strung up dead guy. This guy formed the basis for the Janitor minor plot point and monster in the first Silent Hill movie. Cool.

I rushed through the netherworld school as quickly as I could, nabbed the new shotgun, and headed through a security gate puzzle in the Hell boiler room to take out the first boss, a big lizard whose mouth was put on sideways. Dropping him with the shotty wasn't hard at all, and I was then presented with a hallucinatory vision of a woman in a school girl outfit basically going, "Well shit, he killed my lizard pet" and vanishing. I walked out of the boiler room and discovered things were back to normal, it was now daytime, and I could hear distant church bells ringing. I rushed to the nearest window and demanded a boy buy the biggest turkey in the shop to send to Bob Cratchit's house. Then I remembered I was still in Silent Hill, the boy was a ghost, the turkey was likely cooked but still alive and wriggling on a meat hook, and Tiny Tim had likely been dead for a century. Thus ended my Christmas Carol.

I head to the church next.

Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:55 am
by Exhuminator
Ack wrote:Dad served Mom the papers on my 12th birthday.

What the actual fuck.

Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:57 am
by Ack
Exhuminator wrote:
Ack wrote:Dad served Mom the papers on my 12th birthday.

What the actual fuck.

Hey man, life happens. My grandfather died the day before my birthday, my parents divorced the day after my birthday. I just don't much like my birthday.

Re: Summer Games Challenge 2016

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:01 pm
by fastbilly1
Ack wrote:I just don't much like my birthday.

You and me both.

I cant wait for the personal stories Ack shares next time he plays something like Puyo Puyo.